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It seems to me that there are two paths to competing with dogs.

One is that you work with the dog you have, and accept the limitations that might arise. The other approach is to find the most competitive dog you can and go for the ribbons.

There’s nothing wrong with either approach. Buying a dog, or dogs, until you get the best you can find is certainly valid – unless it gets out of hand. I know people who buy and sell dogs regularly because none of them live up to expectations. Sometimes, however, it’s really because the handler can’t live up to the standard they set and blame the dog.

Yet a really good handler may never be happy with a dog who can’t match the level of the handler. Then it really is better to place that dog in a loving home and find the dog that is a better match. After all, you can’t make a competitive trial dog out of a bulldog.

If I were really going to compete in herding trials, I’d certainly try to find an easier dog than Moss. On the other hand, the difficult dogs are the ones that teach you the most. I’ve had some great dogs and some were naturally talented. I didn’t have to do much but guide them gently to get a great working dog.

I’ve also had dogs with no talent but were eager to please. That took a different way of training. Now I have a dog with some talent, eager to please, but wild as all get-out. This is like no dog I’ve ever tried to train to work sheep. I know there are folks who would tell me to forget it. He’s just going to be too much work and may never calm down. But I don’t want to give up because I want to see if he really can be turned into a quiet worker on sheep. I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot about the mind of a dog by working with him.

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About ragtimelil

Writer, collie mom and all-around great person.

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